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Calgary Family Law Blog

Family law: Some untruths about divorce in Canada

Knowing fact from fiction when it comes to separating as a married couple may save a lot of money, stress and  anxiety. A marriage breakdown is already rife with strong emotions. Family law governs divorce in Canada, although many separating couples aren't sure of what's the truth and what's fabrication when it comes to the rules. There are some myths about divorce about which those considering ending their marriages should know.

The courts don't take sides automatically. In other words, even if a spouse is guilty of adultery, it doesn't mean a judge will side with anyone. Besides, Canada is a no-fault divorce country, meaning that what actually happened in a marriage that led to its erosion has no merit when it comes to the division of assets.

Family law in Canada: How will I know when I'm divorced?

When couple separate, they may be so involved in the process of uncoupling that they don't realize or don't actually know when they have legally become single again. Divorce is part of the family law process in Canada, although some couples may not have any idea when during that process they are actually considered divorced. And there are certain things that could come into play that make a divorce questionable.

For instance, if one spouse asks for a divorce, what happens if the other spouse objects? The one who is against divorcing may ask that the divorce be stayed or put on hold and that could potentially mean indefinitely. There was such a case before the court in a Canadian province where the husband wanted a divorce, but the wife didn't, so the divorce was stayed. During the time of the stay, the husband died.

Rights of infants under family law in Alberta

Infants and babies who can't yet talk and who can't advocate for themselves still have the right to legal representation if the need arises. Under family law in Alberta, legal counsel may be appointed for an infant with or without parental consent through the Office of the Child and Youth Advocate when protection matters come into play or when these kids' parents are divorcing. All children need consistent, nurturing caregivers who put the needs of the children first.

Children need routine in their lives to experience a stress-free environment. Babies and toddlers are especially vulnerable since they can't tell their parents or caregivers how they're feeling. For a very young child who can't communicate and who needs his or her legal rights looked after, the court may appoint a lawyer as a friend of the court. A lawyer may provide a court with prudent, objective information that may help a judge decide what is best for the baby.

Family law in Canada: The low-down on divorce

There are some things about which a separating couple should be aware. Making the decision to divorce is rarely an easy one, but there are family law processes in place in Canada that may make an often bumpy road a little less so. Knowing the legalities of divorce is one way each person can make an emotional time less stressful.

Since 2011, five million Canadians have gone through a divorce or separation, so it is by no means uncommon these days. Knowing about the legalities of divorce may help the people experiencing it to be able to make rational decisions about their individual situations. Divorce in Canada comes under the Federal Divorce Act, although the procedures by which they laws are carried out can vary from province to province and territory. When spouses don't agree on some aspect of the divorce, it is usually considered contested as opposed to uncontested. An uncontested proceeding is typically less costly and could be quicker since the courts don't always have to be involved.

Family law: Dividing CPP benefits

Those who are married or have been living in a common law relationship can split their Canada Pension Plan (CPP) contributions they made while living together. Family law rules in Canada make way for what can and cannot be shared in a divorce or separation situation, and CPP credit splitting is a reality. There are certain criteria that have to be met to qualify for a credit split.

There are different rules for married couples as opposed to those who were cohabiting. Some of the reasons CPP credit splitting is not permitted is if all earnings from the pension in one year of spouses, ex-spouses and former common law partners did not come to more than double the basic tax exemption. Also, if one of the partners was deemed disabled as per the CPP disability benefit, a split won't be issued. A CPP split will not be granted either for the time when a spouse, ex-spouse or former common law partner was listed as a CPP beneficiary.

Family law: Co-parenting manners help children cope with divorce

The old playground ditty children used to recite goes like this: Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me. Modern psychology has proved that is not the case. Name calling can hurt and divorcing parents who badmouth each other in front of their children not only hurt each other, but can actually do a lot of harm to their kids. Co-parenting, which is guided by family law in Canada, is hard work, which becomes even harder when parents are always at each other. However, when parents agree to put the best interests of their children first, the skills needed to be effective co-parents like negotiating, communication and courtesy are generally easier to come by and to maintain.

There is nothing children need more than to feel safe and loved --  apart from having their needs for food, shelter and clothing met. When kids see that their parents are treating each other civilly, they grow up with emotional stability even though their parents are no longer married. Divorce doesn't need to rip a family apart. It may change the family dynamic, but the family can remain intact.  

Property division after divorce: Dealing with assets and debts

When a marriage breaks up, there are many things to consider besides healing broken hearts. If a divorcing Alberta couple has amassed sizable assets, they need to think about things like property division, dividing other assets and clearing debts. Essentially there are two questions to be answered: What each individually is financially worth and what the couple is financially worth together. The 1968 movie, "Yours, Mine and Ours," was about a blended family, but the title could just as easily be used as the starting point for dividing assets in a divorce.

Things should be thought about carefully in any divorce agreement. For instance, if the individuals are relatively young, how will things like pension funds, RRIFs and RRSPs be divided? It may sound good to trade one or more of those for other things, like the boat and car, but there may be regrets when the time for retirement comes along. If the couple owns and operates a business together, that also has to be considered.

Family law in Canada: Genetics may play a part in divorce

Couples get divorced for many reasons -- primarily because there's dissension in their marriages that can't be ironed out. What most citizens in Canada may not know, however, is that divorce -- which comes under family law in each province -- may actually be linked to genetics. Divorce seems to run in families. Studies show that the genes that make up certain personality traits are the same ones that contribute to couples divorcing.

Behaviour that is displeasing like neuroticism, anxiety or worrying can wear on those partnerships, causing them to break down. Scientists say this can be generational behaviour. By studying adoptive children, scientists found that there is more of a correlation between biology and divorce than the way in which children were raised.

Family law: What an offer to settle means in Canada

If there are issues that come up in a divorce case, one party can make an offer to settle. Under family law in Canada, an offer to settle can be made by one party to another regarding one or more issues, such as child custody or spousal support. The offer can either be accepted or sent back with a counteroffer. A offer to settle can often help to avoid a trial during a divorce.

An offer to settle has to be served on an individual and his or her lawyer. The offer can include a deadline for the person to make up his or her mind as to whether to accept or not. If no response is made within the deadline, the offer is considered to be withdrawn. If an offer is made without a deadline, it remains open indefinitely until the person issuing it withdraws it or a judge makes a decision regarding its contents.

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